|Choi Ji-man of the Tampa Bay Rays is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning in Game Two of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 21, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. AFP-Yonhap|
By Jhoo Dong-chan
Tampa Bay Rays' South Korean baseball player Choi Ji-man is enjoying the peak of his Major League Baseball (MLB) career with a series of well-timed performances during this year's post season.
Tampa have managed to advance to the World Series facing off against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On Wednesday, Choi made one hit in three at bats during game 2 against the Dodgers. This made him the first South Korean to record a hit in the World Series. Thanks to his performance, the Rays tied the series 1-1.
Choi's outstanding performance wasn't the first of its kind as he had been in the vanguard of the Rays' 3-2 American League Division Series victory against New York Yankees earlier this month. He took the lead in taking down the Yankee's ace Gerrit Cole. He hit a two-run homer in the first game.
Before joining the Rays in 2018, however, Choi had been considered a journey man due to him changing teams every year since 2016.
The 29-year-old baseball player signed with the Seattle Mariners before the 2010 season, but failed to make his Big League debut in the same year. He was sent to their Arizona League affiliate to begin his U.S. professional baseball career. With the Arizona League Mariners, Choi batted .378 with 23 runs scored, 51 hits, 15 doubles, two triples, one home run, 23 runs batted in (RBIs), and 10 stolen bases in 39 games played.
He finally made his Big League debut in April, 2016, after joining the Los Angeles Angels in December 2015. The Angels, however, designated him for assignment the following month.
Choi signed two minor league contracts with the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers in 2017 and 2018, respectively, as he continued experiencing difficulties in finding his place.
In 2018, however, Choi hit his first career grand slam as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning of a Brewers-Phillies game on June 9.
The day after his grand slam with the Brewers, Choi was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for infielder Brad Miller and cash.
In 2019, Choi established himself in the major leagues for the first time in his career. Choi's defense and power against right-handed pitching earned himself consistent playing time with the Rays. He played in 127 games, hitting .261 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs.